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The Talk

Everyone’s talking toilets, but tech is the real excitement

No trees were killed in the making of this photo.
No trees were killed in the making of this photo.

I had an exciting privilege today. I was the first to “christen” the new fourth floor ladies’ room here at 65 East.

Monday, we moved from the seventh to our new fourth floor-offices, part of the ongoing renovation here at 65 E. Elizabeth Ave. in Bethlehem. We relocated a bit before the fourth-floor restrooms were finished, and for most of the week we needed to travel if we “wanted to see a man about a horse.”

As I opened the door, I couldn’t help but show my age and quote Peter MacNicol’s character in the old “Ally McBeal” television program from the late 1990s.

“I love a fresh bowl,” I quipped, just as he would before he would use a remote control to auto-flush the toilet as he walked into the room.

The show’s co-ed bathroom was the center of a lot of the show’s action and generated a lot of talk about the show, as viewers debated whether or not they’d feel comfortable sharing their work bathroom with co-workers of the opposite sex.

While the show has been off the air for about 14 years, it seems particularly topical now as the nation seems locked in a heated debate over which bathroom that transgender individuals should be allowed or required to use.

Around 700,000 people signed an online petition to boycott Target department stores after the retailer announced earlier this month that patrons should use whichever bathroom – men’s or women’s – that matches their gender identity.

People with passionate opinions on both sides of the controversy have been creating a great deal of “potty talk” as a result.

Before you roll your eyes, don’t worry – this isn’t an opinion piece. I will not comment on any opinion I may or may not have.

All of the talk, though, reminds me how the often-overlooked room is really a very important center of our lives.

A restroom, whether in a public place or office building, is for the most part an important necessity that virtually everyone uses.

And the restroom isn’t just tile, plumbing and hand towels. It’s a space of ever-evolving technology.

Back when I watched Ally McBeal, more than thinking about whether or not I’d share a restroom with the men at work, I thought about that remote flusher. I loved that remote flusher.

Sure, it had no real purpose – other than not having to touch a germy toilet handle – but, it was a gadget. And I love gadgets.

So I was thrilled to discover our new ladies’ room was tricked out with the latest technology.

Who needs a remote flusher? We now have three toilets with automatic sensors that flush themselves – sweet.

I don’t have to sully myself turning on the water, either. I just placed my hands under the faucet and out came a stream of nice mid-temperature H2O.

Soap? A wave of the hand, and there’s enough soap to lather my hands.

I then dried my hands with my favorite brand of hand dryer, the Xlerator. No paper towels piling up around the overflowing trash bin. No spending 15 minutes trying to use one of those old-fashioned hand dryers that really only blows the water around until you give up and dry your hands on your pants.

These work, with a jet engine-like blast of not-too-hot air – and no trees were axed to get the job done.

You see, that’s the real win here.

Because, it’s not about impressing the word’s nerdiest reporter with a bunch of shiny new gadgets, and, frankly, the technology isn’t that new. It’s about the environmental benefits of not wasting so much water or paper, and the health benefits of not having to touch so many bathroom surfaces.

There’s even a state-of-the-art water fountain just outside the door that’s designed to fill reusable water bottles. It boasts a little note on it reminding everyone how many plastic bottles aren’t being used by instead refilling bottles from the fountain.

And if you take into account the leaking pipes and dripping faucets and piles of paper towels that we had been using, the building’s owners must be saving a lot of water, paper and money over the long haul.


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